A map of the North Adams 'Smart Growth' overlay district (copy)

A map shows where "Smart Growth" zoning applies in North Adams.

NORTH ADAMS — A new zoning change might lead to more dense development in and around downtown.

The City Council passed a "Smart Growth" zoning change in its second and final vote on the measure Tuesday night. The ordinance creates a Smart Growth zoning district that encourages more dense residential and mixed-use development.

The district includes two areas — one is around downtown, and the other is in an area between Union and Eagle streets called the “mills subzone.”

The measure also is referred to as 40R, the section of state law that allows it.

Under the zoning change, 20 percent of units must be affordable — open to families that earn 80 percent or less of the area median income. It doesn't require all new developments in the outlined areas to comply, instead, it's another zoning option that projects can fall under.

"I just want to mention that there is no pending development," Councilor Wayne Wilkinson said. "This just allows somebody who wants to do a project, it allows them to do that.”

Councilors voted unanimously to pass the ordinance Tuesday night. An initial vote on the ordinance was taken in late August.

One member of the public commented on the ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting. Jennifer Barbeau, who is running for City Council, told the council at the opening of the meeting that the city needs to see growth downtown, but she doesn’t feel that there has been enough transparency in the process of discussing and approving Smart Growth zoning.

Barbeau also expressed concerns about how city infrastructure would support new developments.

Councilor Benjamin Lamb later addressed concerns about infrastructure.

“Obviously, any of these projects have to still go through the Planning Board or the formal process, as any development would. I would hope and assume that they would address those concerns at the time of development," he said. "We can’t dictate what’s actually going to be developed.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6272.


Greta Jochem, a Report for America Corps member, joined the Eagle in 2021. Previously, she was a reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She is also a member of the investigations team.